Books @ Heart

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Books @ Heart

Books@Heart is an early childhood reading program, focused on improving cognitive development and parent-child bonding of the youngest of infants in our Heart Center. Research has consistently shown that early exposure to reading and books enhances cognitive and language development; and that these results are long lasting throughout childhood and beyond in the form of better vocabulary and school scores.

Many of the infants in our Heart Center are hospitalized for long stretches in their first year of life. Books@Heart aims to provide these babies and their families rich opportunities to grow a love for books and foster their development along the way.


How the Program Works

Every infant admitted to the Heart Center under one year old is eligible for the program. The structure mimics the outpatient pediatrician’s schedule, when these babies would otherwise have received anticipatory guidance about reading. Babies receive books at birth or at their first admission to the TCH Heart Center, and then at ages 2months, 4months, 6months, 9months and 12 months.

The family is introduced to the program structure, the benefits of reading to their infants, as well as guidance about language development at the time they receive their first book. They are also given a reading calendar with stickers, to track daily reading sessions. Each family also has the opportunity to meet with a speech and language pathologist to further learn about cognitive development in infancy. Children and families receive reading awards – a medal after 14reading sessions in a month and a trophy after 21 reading sessions. They receive a bonus book if they read every single day of the month. Although the primary focus of Books@Heart is family members reading to the infant, we absolutely love it when other caregivers read as well! Any provider or staff member is empowered and encouraged to read as much as they would like to the babies.

Check out these blogs to learn more about the program:


Who We Are

We are a collaborative of many healthcare professionals: while the program was first initiated by Drs. Kriti Puri and Amanda Ruth, this program would not be possible without the many team members who have joined in support. Our program is well-knit with the inpatient developmental care program led by Dr Justin Elhoff. Our Speech and Language Pathologists are crucial in assessing our babies’ language development and continuing to follow them outpatient to see if they reach specific milestones. Likewise, our nurses are instrumental in continuing to explain the program to our families, implementing the program throughout the Heart Center, and being readers themselves! We have a dedicated team of inpatient Advanced Practice Providers who meet with families to count stars and continue to encourage reading throughout the inpatient stay. We have also been actively seeking feedback from parents since the early days of the program, with feedback opportunities on each book and calendar – and we have modified our program and book offerings in response. Along the way, other providers with a passion for reading and early childhood development have continued to join our team which now comprises over 10 people.


Want to get Involved?

The launch and execution of Books@Heart is made possible by many generous donations. Our friends, family, colleagues, and even community partners lavishly donated books and supplies to our patient.If you are interested in learning more about the books we distribute, please check out the list here.

If you are interested in donating, please visit here.

Giving website or send us books from our Amazon wishlist along with a message for our heart warriors.

If you have any questions or feedback, please write to us at booksatheart@texaschildrens.org